Story of Port au Prince
BECOME A CITYZEN OF PORT AU PRINCE
Today, Port au Prince stands as the prized jewel of Haiti- the capital, largest city, commercial center, and chief port all at once. Port-au-Prince is located on the Gulf of Gonâve, a wide harbor on the southwestern coast of Hispaniola. The city was named after the first French ship to arrive there, Prince, in 1706. Port-au-Prince’s natural harbor has seen activity for centuries, flourishing with the unique culture of the Taino Indians who have long inhabited the region. Today their brilliant legacy and vivid culture lives on in the city and its people.
Revolution: a new haiti
August 22nd, 1791 is passed down from generation to generation of Haitians as the "Night of Fire", where slaves all across the then colony set fire to the lands' plantation houses and fields in a grand act of rebellion. This caught the attention of a brave leader; born into slavery although the son of an African prince, young Toussaint Louverture fostered kindness and respect from his superiors with his intelligence and curiosity. He was taught to read and write by his godfather and was praised early on for his reputation as a skilled horseman and for his knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs. Following the Night of Fire, Louverture made a pledge to assist the slaves and lead them to freedom, bringing with them their traditions of voodou and artistry.
After the slaves' freedom was granted by the French however, Louverture's stature in Haiti threatened none other than Napoleon Bonaparte, who thusly decided to dispatch his brother-in-law to regain dominance over Haiti and return the nation to slavery. While Louverture was captured and imprisoned in France in 1803, 1 year later the island of Haiti achieved independence under the leadership of one of his generals, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared Port au Prince the captial of the new Republic of Haiti. Even today Toussaint Louverture is honored as a leader of the people, and the values and culture he fought for live on in the Haitian people.
On January 10th, 2010, a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurred just 16 miles west of Port au Prince. 52 aftershocks later, it was revealed that 250,000 people were killed and over 300,000 were injured. 1.3 million people were displaced and almost 300 houses were badly damaged if not completely destroyed. This earthquake shook Haiti, marking the date as the worst in all of Haiti's history.
However, while this is a grand tragedy, the people of Haiti have received over 13 billion USD in aid and restoration and reconstruction efforts progress every day. Just one year after the earthquake Haiti's precious Iron Market was rebuilt and renovated, available for use yet again by the people of Haiti. Such is the way with most of Haiti's core facilities, with neighborhoods being rebuilt consistently. Haitian culture has withstood the blow!
Contemporary haitian culture
Modern Haiti is vibrant and alive- every nook and cranny boasting its own unique cultural dedication. From its many natural (and thought to be magical) waterfalls and national parks to its high end bars and restaurants featuring one of Haiti's longest held luxuries, Rhum Barbancourt, embody the storied past and strong spirit of the Haitian people.
Visitors can enjoy nature walks, fine local artisanal shopping and treasured monuments. A museum of note is the Musée du Panthéon National Haitien, an architectural gem that survived the earthquake of 2010 and goes on to display the beauty of the island's ancestors. Then perhaps after the museum and lunch at Port au Prince's favorite restaurant, Papaye, you'll find yourself dancing late at night to compas: a complex, everchanging music genre that fuses African rhythms, European ballroom dancing, and Haitian bourgeois aesthetics before going to rest for the night at the historic Oloffson Hotel.